Magic Squares - Jim Johnson

MAGIC SQUARES

The Magic Squares series of works began with the discovery of this fascinating mathematical figure, the square of nine. This series of paintings based on the Chinese Magic Square of Nine presented the numerical figures in a grid which when added together, either horizontally, vertically or diagonally, total 15. This ancient mathematical curiosity provided the basis for numerous paintings, two books, a typeface, a screensaver, and a video installation.

4 9 2
3 5 7
8 1 6

The design of the numbers uses the model of the literal number of squares representing itself, as written in the original form (using circles) discovered on the back of a turtle in the Lo Shu River valley. One is represented by one square, two by two squares, etc. In the process of designing the square forms, I discovered that the odd number figures were the visual negative of the even numbered figures. In the Chinese cosmology, this would represent a reconciliation of yin and yang, earth and sky, male and female principles.

The squares have been designated colors according to their relative positions in the spectrum of visible light. Thus, one is represented by violet, the shortest wavelength and nine by the color red, the longest wavelength.



SQUARE LINE, 1979, gouache on paper, 9 1/2 X 15 1/4"




RIGHT BRAIN, 2007, gouache on paper, 20 X 20"



LO SHU, 2005, gouache on paper, 11 X 12"



8 & 1, 2005, gouache on paper, 9 X 12"



7 & 2, 2005, gouache on paper, 9 X 11"



6 & 3, 2005, gouache on paper, 9 X 12"



4 & 5, 2005, gouache on paper, 9 X 11"



9 & 0, 2005, gouache on paper, 9 X 12"



FIVE PAIRS, 2002, oil on canvas, 9 X 9" each



FIVE SQUARE, 1979, gouache on paper, 19 X 19"



ONE TO SIXTEEN, 1980, gouache on paper, 20 X 20"



NINE HALLS 3, 1979, gouache on paper, 15 X 15"



NINE HALLS 4, 1979, gouache on paper, 15 X 15"



RR NH (green), 1979, gouache on paper, 12 X 12"



RR NH (orange), 1979, gouache on paper, 12 X 12"



RR NH (violet), 1979, gouache on paper, 12 X 12"



FIVE PAIRS, 1980, gouache on paper, 15 X 15"




NINE TO ONE, 1981, gouache on paper, 7 X 19"




MATRIX SERIES